Faecal output of 287 beef cows consisting of Hereford (H × H), Simmental × Hereford (S × H), Friesian × Hereford (F × H) and Brahman × Hereford (B × H) breeding was estimated using controlled release of chromic oxide (Cr2O3). All cows were from 6 to 10 years of age and had grazed on one of three pasture systems in the subtropics of New South Wales since they were 7–8 months of age. These pastures were designated as being of high, medium and low nutritive value. Faecal organic matter output (FOMO) was estimated in each of four periods (early lactation, mid lactation, late lactation, and non-lactating) during one annual production cycle.
Herbage mass exceeded 2 t/ha on all pasture systems, but estimates of organic-matter digestibility, nitrogen content and pasture composition indicated large differences in pasture quality (high > medium > low). Live weight of cows averaged 604, 488 and 393 kg live weight on the high, medium and low pastures, respectively. There were significant differences in live weight between genotypes on the medium (B × H > F × H and H × H) and low (S × H ≡ F × H ≡ B × H > H × H) pastures but not on the high pasture).
FOMO and dry-matter intake (DMI) differed significantly between genotypes among lactating cows on all pasture systems. Rankings on high pastures were reasonably consistent in all periods: S × H ≡ F × H ≥ B × H ≥ H × H, as were those on low pastures, B × H ≥ S × H ≡ F × H ≥ H × H. Differences on medium pastures were significant only during mid-lactation when B × H ≡ S × H ≡ F × H > H × H. Significant differences between genotypes were observed among non-lactating cows on high pastures only, where H × H ≡ S × H ≡ F × H > B × H. Lactating females had significantly higher FOMO and DMI than non-lactating females when compared across genotypes during early lactation on all pastures.